The plastic waste problem we have on our planet is a big one… and it’s only getting worse! Lately, I’ve been trying to be more conscious of the products I use and where the waste from them might end up. If you take a look at all the plastic you accumulate in one day, it adds up. FAST. I’m making a conscious effort to stop contributing to our planets plastic problem and instead, finding ways I can reduce my plastic waste. Hopefully this post encourages you to help do the same. Reducing your plastic waste is a lot easier than you think, and makes a huge difference. Here are 10 easy ways you can reduce plastic waste in your own life.
1. BRING YOUR OWN BAGS
This is by far one of the easiest things you can do to prevent plastic buildup in your home, community, world. It’s estimated that americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, requiring 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture.
Disposable shopping bags have been banned in a number of cities already and some cities even require you to purchase bags for up to .15 cents to discourage the use of plastic bags altogether. Skip the plastic produce bags at the store! Bring your own. I’ve linked my favorite at the bottom of this page.
If all else fails and you forget your reusable shopping bag, request paper bags at the grocery store.
2. STOP BUYING PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES
Are you one of those people who buys an aggressive amount of plastic water bottles when you’re out and about? STOP. Purchase a reusable water bottle and take it with you. Everywhere. Bigger the better so it challenges you to drink more water throughout the day.
My favorite is HydroFlask.
3. INVEST IN STASHER BAGS & GLASS TUPPERWARE
Stasher bags are reusable, translucent silicone ziplocks that can be used for anything from snacks, produce, frozen fruits to all your travel essentials. They might seem a little pricey at first, but you’ll be saving so much money instead of buying plastic ziplocks every few weeks. I have an entire collection of Stashers and love them! Use ‘Rachael15’ on their website for a discount (not an affiliate).
Glass tupperware is great not only because it cuts down on plastic use, but also because it’s safer for your food. Glass food storage containers don’t leach unwanted toxic chemicals into your food, especially when it comes to heating your food in the container.
Pro’s of glass tupperware: they don’t absorb smells from your food and continue to smell after cleaning, they can go straight in the oven (still check the label), they are durable and seem to last forever, they freeze well, help keep foods clean, fresh and tasty for longer periods of time, holds heat better than plastic, looks prettier than plastic, and makes it easier to see what’s inside.
4. SHOP IN BULK
This is especially true when it comes to buying pre-packaged fruits and veggies. Obviously it’s more convenient to buy a container full of perfectly chopped fresh fruit or chopped vegetables. But at the end of the day, you’ll be saving more money buying the whole fruit/veggie version as well as significantly reducing your plastic use. When you’re at the grocery store or farmer’s market, look for produce items that are singles– not packaged together.
5. BRING YOUR OWN LUNCH/SNACKS ON THE GO
Instead of eating to-go each day for lunch and taking food items to go back to work with you, make the choice to bring food from home. Not only is it the healthier option (you’re in control of what’s going in your food), but by bringing your meal in a reusable glass container, you have no reason to get takeaway! P.s. don’t forget your reusable silverware from home.
6. SAY NO TO PLASTIC STRAWS
Most cities and restaurants are realizing the extreme problem of plastic waste. Quite a few, actually, are making the change to ban plastic straws within the next several years. A recent study has estimated by the year 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. By saying no to plastic straws, you are doing a huge part in helping prevent this prediction from becoming a reality. Try going strawless, or maybe invest in a set of stainless steel or glass straws to keep at home / with you at all times just in case the right time strikes.
7. BRING YOUR OWN THERMOS/MUG TO COFFEE SHOPS
On average, americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day. For how many people drink coffee on a daily basis (sometimes several cups per day), it’s almost obvious that’s where we should be doing our best to make a change with waste. Pick up a cute (or extra manly, if you’re a guy) thermos and bring it with you whenever you head to your favorite coffee shop.
8. AVOID SNACKS/FOODS/PACKAGES WITH EXCESSIVE PACKAGING
So many convenience foods are covered with way too much packaging that all ends up getting thrown away. When looking for on the go snacks, skip the individually packaged products and buy in bulk instead (going back to what I mentioned above). Pick up a piece of fresh fruit and skip the packaged snacks all together!
Shopping online can be super convenient and sometimes even more affordable, but have you thought about how much waste you have to throw out once you receive the package? It’s usually extremely unnecessary. Fortunately, there are starting to be more and more online shops that promote zero-waste while still supporting small, independent businesses. Click here for a full list.
9. SHOP LOCAL / FARMERS MARKET
Go to your local farmer’s market to buy fresh produce, loaves of bread, etc. that are not wrapped in plastic. Bring your own reusable produce bags / totes. Not only are you supporting local businesses and farmers, but you’re going to be getting fresher produce with minimal to zero packaging.
10. REUSE, REUSE, REUSE
Often times you’ll buy kitchen staples like salsa, peanut butter, sauerkraut, etc. and they are in a glass or even plastic jar. Once you’re all done, clean out the jar and use it like tupperware to store leftovers, juice, bone broth, smoothies, etc. No need to be buying plastic tupperware ever again.
While it’s extremely important to mindful of these things, it’s also important to respect those people or restaurants who have not already made all changes possible in order to eliminate their plastic use. Perhaps they’re in the process of making a change. Or, maybe they’re entirely unaware and could use some insight on how big of a problem the topic of plastic is becoming to our world. Offer a few helpful tips and be a good role model. The truth is, a lot of people are simply unfamiliar with ways they can contribute. If you have any other ways you’ve been making an effort to reduce your plastic waste, let me know in the comments!
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